Monday, April 30, 2012

When Life Disappoints

Today was the day we had to know--staying or going--Josh's contract for the next school year needed to be signed.  The past few months we had set our sights on a few jobs that would take us back to the Lincoln area or neighboring communities.  Josh had sent out his resume' and he was invited to interview at several different schools.  We waited and hoped and prayed.  It's not that Josh doesn't enjoy his job here--he does--and he really likes the students.  And it's not that we hate Arapahoe, because it's a nice little town and we've met some nice people.  It's just that we miss our life back in Lincoln . . . me especially.

When we had no word from two schools we were waiting on last Friday we knew then no good news would be coming. Phone calls today confirmed that.  I've had a weekend to work through my disappointment and resign myself to the fact there will be no moving boxes in my future and no anticipation of another new chapter.  I would like to tell you I brush these situations off and bounce right back.  But I don't.  It takes a lot of work for me to get back in state of mind where I don't believe the sky is falling in.

I'm assuming I'm not alone in going through periods of discouragement and disappointment?  We all have our situations and circumstances where the hurt stays fresh for an indefinite amount of time and the longing and wistfulness linger.  While I would like to curl up in bed sobbing into my pillow (because life is unfair and why does God hate me and why can't anything ever go my way and why does everything work our for everybody but me???) having a grand pity party complete with chocolate or ice cream (or both) it really does nothing to help me move on. (Shocking, I know.) ;o)

So, what do I do?  Over the years I've developed an "action plan" to move me from "woe is me" to "life goes on."  Here is my list of what I find most helpful when I am down-in-the dumps:
1.  Think on what is true. Philippians 4:8 says " Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  When I think on what I want I'm only reminded of what I can't have.  It makes me grumpy. While I want to move, what is true is that I live here--my thoughts must end right there. I can't let them traipse into all the beautiful little places I would like to wander with them--it is completely destructive.  Favorite book on this subject--

2.  Remember the ways God has worked things out in the past.  I love the story from Joshua 4 where the Israelites cross the Jordan River on dry ground.  God commands them to gather stones and build a memorial there to remember how God worked that situation out for them.  We all need to have those markers to return to--those hard situations that seemed so impossible and insurmountable--how did God work that out for your good?  The answers aren't always clear when you are in the middle of a trial.  Sometimes it takes a few years (or maybe a lifetime?) of perspective to really understand what God was doing at the time.  But we know because of Romans 8:28 that God is working everything together for our good and we have to cling to that promise when life doesn't make much sense.

3.  Pray for other people and practice some "random acts of kindness."  If I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself one of the best things I can do is pray for others who are struggling right now.  More often than not they are going through things that make my problems look pretty silly in comparison.  Look for ways to be a blessing to someone else.  Jesus-Others-You  . . . a great way to spell joy. ;o)

4.  Make a project list.  So, I can't move back to Lincoln, but what can I do in Arapahoe right now?  It's a way for me of putting "feet" on thinking what is true.  I can't plan a new home to decorate but I can paint that dresser that's been sitting in the basement awaiting attention.  Creating and making pretty things makes me happy and when my hands are busy so is my mind, leaving it less time to dwell on what is not true.

5.  Clean and organize.  I know that sounds silly, but I'll never forget when I found out about my brain tumor and had so many different meetings with doctors in those first few weeks following the diagnosis.  It was really easy to worry myself into an upset stomach. I remember doing the dishes and feeling immense satisfaction at the fact that here was an area I had control over.  I couldn't change the fact there was something growing in my head but I could have complete authority over the fact my dishes were washed.  I've found this true over and over--whenever I am upset or worried about a situation the best thing to do is the next thing.  Once again busy hands make a busy mind and I don't feel so bad about the situations I can't control.

And that's what I'll be up to these next days and weeks (months and years . . .). ;o)  Reminding myself again from Isaiah 26:3 "The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee."  And ultimately that's the goal--steady on.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 22-28

Seeing as it is April in Nebraska, Jackson has switched to full "tornado mode" again.  Last year's viewing of "Tornado Alley" at the Imax really left a lingering impression . . . He has checked out every available tornado book at the library, he's drawing some action-packed scenes, and during a recent tornado warning moved all his clothes, Lego guys, and his Bible to the basement.  This picture cracks me up because of the guy in the left-hand corner.  Check out the lens on his camera! ;o)
The kids have been busy capturing butterflies galore (and then bringing them inside where they frantically try to break out through the window). These Eastern Swallowtails are some of my favorites--mainly because they are my wedding colors, yellow and blue.
Josh surprised Isabella with a new bike (yes, it's more a "boy's bike" but we've learned our lesson buying pink/purple . . .).  I kid you not when I say in two days' time both tires were flat.  Have I mentioned we have puncture vine here?? 
A picnic lunch on the back patio--we are our own small gathering. ;o)
The UPS guy was wildly amused on Thursday when he dropped off a package to find my children in the midst of digging a "rabbit trap."  Apparently they are really good at working a post-hole digger!  They missed their calling as farm kids.  I requested they fill the hole back in before somebody breaks a leg--spoil-sport that I am.
Meet Winston, our hedgehog.  He's kind of a cross between a white rat and a sea urchin--you can decide for yourself if that is a cute combination . . . Whatever the case the kids adore him and talk of him constantly and are rather bummed he's a nocturnal animal. For me that equals about a half hour of play time in the evening which is about all I want a creature like that running loose in my house, if you know what I'm saying . . . ;o)
Saturday morning sunshine through the lifting fog--I didn't capture it that well, but a fitting way to end the week.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bits of Random Information

As the week ends . . .

I think I can officially proclaim we have finished our school year.  Our first year of me doing all the planning went well, and wasn't really any more difficult than any other year.  While I still love My Father's World and debate about going back to it, I also like the freedom to pick exactly what I want to use, and the lack of guilt I have when I didn't follow the directions (in MFW).  It's also fun because I can cater to my kids' interests--for Marissa that meant lots of vocabulary work (she loves it!!). ;o)

On a similar note, this is the first year in many that I'm missing the home school conference.  Originally I had planned on coming back, but as our spring filled up with trips (kicked off March with a little trip to CO and have since followed it up with SIX trips to Lincoln completed by either Josh, myself, or all of us together) I just knew I needed to stay put this weekend.  Still, I will miss my two days of book perusal--doesn't get much better than that!!

I have ONE long-ish run left in my half marathon training!  Next week has a few shorter distances and then several days of resting up the legs for the big day.  I think I'm ready . . .  And for the record, in spite 12 weeks of concentrated training (preceded by a month and half of getting ready for training) I did not lose a SINGLE POUND!  I maintained my post-nursing-I-don't-remember-how-to-eat-weight, the same number I always gravitate back to.  I would like to think I'm a bit trimmer though, and I think I rediscovered some forgotten muscles in my upper legs (people, it's hilly out here!).  Weight is just a number, right?  However, it's been YEARS since I've been in this good of shape (cardiovascularly speaking) and that's what counts.

I'm gearing up for an extended stay in Lincoln--next week I have to be there for a pre-op physical for Owen and Owen's "cavity surgery."  Marissa is joining my mom and the Crete fourth graders for Pioneer Day. Then there's the half marathon. And then we're lingering until the 11th due to a follow-up appointment for Isabella's asthma.  Josh is driving out separately (he doesn't want to miss my racing debut . . .). ;o) 

Speaking of Pioneer Day, I'm hoping to get this put together today:

(a version of the dress in the top right-hand corner and the bonnet . . . and maybe an apron if I'm feeling super ambitious)

We have acquired a hedgehog.  His name is Winston Quiverprickles.  Currently he is Josh's classroom pet (because every physics class needs a hedgehog).  But once school is out he is officially ours.  Apparently they eat cat food.

Josh officially ordered us "smart phones" yesterday.  (It would seem that sewing a big enough pocket in my messenger bag worked!! If you sew it, it will come . . .). ;o)  I'm pretty excited to join the rest of the world in phone technology as well as have a handy little camera for all those casual pics I miss because I don't want to lug the big camera everywhere.  I believe we're getting Droid 4's.  Let me know what apps I need.  I'm utterly clueless in that regard (like, can the same apps recommended for the iPhone be used on a Droid?).  No more painfully slow texting on my old-fashioned phone!! Yippee!!

There are some "good mail days" up ahead . . . the phones, a Mrs. Meyers order because they had free shipping (HUGE savings because of that), some books from Amazon (butterfly and gardening oriented), bicycle tubes filled with "goo" so they don't go flat (I'll let you know how that works).  Good mail days always make me happy! ;o) 

A funny picture I had to share:
Should you ever find yourself jailed in Furnas County be rest-assured they have an exercise area--a basket-ball hoop confined to roughly a 12x12 area (complete with barb wire fencing).  It's located right next to the main road in Beaver City, so all your mad b-ball skills would be on display to those passing by.  Josh and I found this all quite humorous. ;o)

Hope you all get a wonderful start to your weekends!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 15-21

You've already seen this picture, but it was definitely a highlight of the week!
Emmett's "castle-boat"
Another library excursion where Emmett's title choices made me laugh--whatever am I going to be in for with that boy??!
Owen's been "riding" all over the place--he helmets himself (of course) and circles the drive way over and over and over.
Thursday we celebrated Josh's birthday with a whole bunch of knock-off Chipotle recipes.  It didn't taste *exactly* like them but it was the best we could do out here.  Overall, it was really tasty and I will overlook the fact that I had to start this dinner in the morning in order to get all the different parts made (as well as do three loads of dishes when it was all said and done!!).  Still, it was worth it. ;o)
This guy will spend hours in the yard chasing our wide variety of butterfly species.  Occasionally he catches one (poor butterfly).
The girls took part in their very first violin recital on Saturday.  Here they are with their teacher Rachel (and they also insisted her daughter be in the picture too). ;o)  I was hoping to be able to post some video but I think the files are too large and I'm not sure how to make them smaller (too big for  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Something Beautiful Remains

The girls and I departed on a Highway 6 road trip Sunday morning--our mission, to reach Crete by noon and crash the fellowship meal at Cornerstone Bible Church.  Well, that was the first mission. (Successful!). ;o) The 2nd mission was to make it to rehearsal with a bunch of Crete High School choir alumni so that we could sound pretty when we serenaded our former choir director at the end of his final concert as the choir teacher at Crete.

I debated making this trip because we've done a lot of traveling the last few months and quite frankly I'm tired of driving. (I'm one of those people who would so very much love to be chauffered everywhere!)  But I knew I would regret it if I missed it and I am so glad I went!
Pretty much my whole high school experience can be summed up in one word--music.  Band, jazz band, choir, and the last semester of my senior year, swing choir--my class schedule was always packed around my music classes.  I had a wonderful band teacher as well as a great choir teacher and I loved the concerts, honor bands, and contests.  I would have to say--less I give anyone the impression I have this stellar singing voice--that my strength was more in the instrumental area.  In spite of this, I still really enjoyed choir (and have always wished I could sing better).
Anyway, these two high school music teachers were excellent, incredibly encouraging guys and I will always have wonderful memories from their classes and all the other experiences that went with being part of a high school band and choir.  Sadly, a month after I graduated from high school my band director was killed in a car accident. 
That being said, there will always be a special bond with my music friends, people I have traveled to Disney World with, spent nights with in hotels during all the honor choirs/bands, accompanied for contests, and together mourned the loss of an incredible teacher and friend.
It was sooooo good to see them Sunday and get caught up!
(Hi Becky, Dana, and Tiffany!) ;o)

And it was so wonderful to surprise our former choir director.  We sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" (acapella/four part harmony)--a song that was performed at each graduation when sending the graduating class off.  It was completely fitting that at his final concert we sent him off to that particular song--one he had taught us all.
The sight of him standing on the stage listening, eyes closed, fighting back tears while we sang will fill my heart for a very long time.  The drive was worth it for that moment alone.
(Circa 1998--we haven't changed a bit right?  I bet some you didn't know I used to have some crazy long hair!!) ;o)
And it was so encouraging to talk to both him and his wife afterwards about "retirement." He has so many new endeavors up ahead--teaching a college class, helping new music teachers get up and going, organizing Disney World trips for other music groups . . . He's going to be busy!  And his wife is back in school working on a masters degree in medical counseling to help people deal with those hard diagnoses (something their family knows a lot about--two cancer survivors!!).  It made me think about endings and beginnings and how you're never too old to start a new chapter.
"The tide recedes, but leaves behind bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land.
The music stops, yet echoes on in sweet refrains.
 For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 8-14

A family Easter picture . . . 6 out of 7 looking at the camera, not too shabby! Jackson was in a less-than-stellar mood, I thought he was standing there all amiably but EVERY SINGLE PICTURE he was looking down.  This is real life people. ;o)
Redbuds, probably my very favorite spring flowering tree!
Owen has entered the "Little People phase" and consequently I overhear him acting out little scenarios with the figurines.  This night I nudged Josh saying "Look how cute he is!" Owen heard me and got all bashful, peering at me through the attic window.
 My first baking of Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake!  It's a recipe I've used since high school and it is soooo good!  It's not all dry and crummy like you may think a coffee cake is, but it is really just plain awesome.  Perfect for a Mother's Day brunch perhaps?
Rainy day messiness busy-ness.
Owen also likes the potato heads.  Overall he is just growing up, isn't he? *sniffle*
Josh replacing the shocks on the van (with help).  I must say I appreciate his handiness!  When we got married I think he could change oil and a tire, and shortly after my dad taught him how to do brakes.  Since then he has done all sorts of things--things I would describe if I had any idea what I was talking about. ;o)  Overall he's saved us a bunch of money in car maintenance and repairs. Money I can spend on more important things like books and fabric . . . ;o)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Messenger Bag

I've been toying with the idea of a messenger styled bag for awhile, taking my inspiration from these and also this.  I wanted a bag that I could slip my laptop into for traveling, as well as a bag that would look cute (most importantly). ;o)  I loosely followed this tutorial, but used my own measurements as well as made a few adjustments to suit my needs.
I added a happy little yellow pen/phone pocket.  I pointed out to Josh that "Look, I made the pocket a little bit bigger to accommodate an iPhone when you get me one!!"  He may have snorted.
My very favorite part is that ruffle--the ruffle totally makes the bag, doesn't it?

For the most part I'm thrilled how it turned out, but you see how it hangs there with stuff in it?  It's kind of slouchy.  I was envisioning something that would retain its shape better.  However, I was on a sewing roll Wednesday evening, and as I debated waiting until I had a chance next week to grab some extra thick interfacing or just keep sewing I decided I was too impatient.  I hoped the thicker canvas styled polka-dot material would do the trick.  And well, it did not.  I'm going to make a stiff bottom insert, and maybe that will help the slouchiness a bit.  I wish I had yards and yards of the polka dot material.  I love it . . . but it was $16 a yard . . . hence I only allowed myself one measly yard of it.  I'm hoping to make a new Bible cover with the remainder of the fabric via this tutorial.  Mine saw its better day a few years ago (first the handle broke off, than the zipper stopped working).  The only purpose it served was holding the cover on my Bible!  I've debated getting a new Bible but I would have to transfer all my markings and notes and that would really be a process!  A new cover seems the best route to take. ;o)

Anyway, that's what my sewing machine has been up to lately.  Any crafty projects in your parts?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hello Monday!

Hello lovely time down at my parents' home catching up with my siblings while cousins ran loose and crazy!
Hello celebrating Christ's resurrection in our home church!

Hello colorful new clothes!

Hello morning to myself to run a few Lincoln errands, namely--
Hobby Lobby--for some zippers
Goodwill--found another white pitcher!
Staples--yay for Martha Stewart office products!
And Calico House for some fun fabrics--

Hello packing up!

Hello rhubarb--I was so sad to have forgotten to raid my mom's patch while we were down there for Easter, but thankfully my mom-in-law got me hooked up--

Hello dentist-appointment-that-I-thought-was-a-cavity-filling-but-turned-into-a consultation-for-the-real-appointment-which-will-take-place-in-a-hospital-in-a-month-under-full-anesthesia-and-intubation!! What??!?  (Long story short, cavities and two year olds, not a good idea).

Hello drive home where 4/5 of the children slept for 2/3 of the trip! (Bliss)

Hello migraine hitting the last 15 minutes of travel . . . (but thankfully NOT a bad one)

Hello Daddy and kids at "The Lorax" this evening.

Hello me being productive and getting everything unpacked and ready for the week blogging and taking a nice hot bath. ;o)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 1-7

Jackson finally figured out the no-training-wheel thing!  Sadly, while this picture looks successful, shortly after snapping he crashed into the van (as you can see he's kind of heading for it . . .). 
 Next up--learning to steer! ;o)
A normal day in the life of Owen, choosing for himself an interesting outfit (not pictured, Jackson's shoes on his feet) and contemplating a game of Chess.
Sweet Bella.
Awana awards night--can you believe we're already done?  Back in Lincoln we would still have another month!
Cute little bird nest snacks--if I'm being honest I don't find them that tasty (aside from the mini Cadbury eggs on top, THOSE are good!).  But they sure do look fun!
An egg dying party at my sister's house!  We had a fun time--the kids played all morning, my sissy and I got caught up on life and she made the most awesome French Toast Casserole for lunch that I'm going to have to make just as soon as I gather the ingredients. It was a fabulous morning (that stretched into early afternoon . . .). ;o)
Isabella and her sweet Addi cousin--I loved seeing her joy in interacting with a baby again.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Winner . . .

Slipping in quickly to announce the name I drew out of the bowl was--
(I'll contact you via facebook to get your address!!)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hello Monday!

Hello color!

Hello reading through John's account of holy week!

Hello reading this with my kids--

and exploring these--
(I found my set at Hobby Lobby for 40% . . . I don't know if they still have any, but it's worth a shot if you are looking for some)

Hello {imaginary} giant sleeping monsters in the garage!
(Owen has found his imagination)

Hello coral and aqua--a new favorite color combo!

Hello quiet evening by myself  while Josh and the kids head to the movies!

Hello fitting five days of schoolwork into four!

Hello packing for a long weekend back in Lincoln!

Hello plans to bake with rhubarb!

Hello a tote bag to give away!
It's made of an avocado-colored linen and lined and embellished with navy polka-dot fabric.
Just leave a comment and I'll draw a name on Friday!